New toys — they are a thrill, aren’t they?
Not to spoil the fun, but as you excitedly pull your new laptop, tablet or smartphone from the box, remember that each new device is an entry point for cybercriminals to float threats like malware, viruses, ransomware and spyware into your system.
Here’s a simple Doc-approved checklist to use BEFORE connecting any new device:
Are you using a secure network?
A secure network simply means it’s encrypted and requires a security key. Most home networks are already set up in this way. Many public networks, however, are not. That’s why it’s best to avoid public WiFi, as it is a potential “security breach.”
Have you set up touch ID or face ID?
Many smart devices these days offer touch ID (via thumbprint) or face ID (which uses face-scanning technology). Enabling these lets you add an extra layer of juicy “biometric” protection to your device.
Are your passwords strong enough?
Some of the basics of “hack-proof” passwords include not using family members’ names or birthdays, selecting a variety of symbols (e.g., letters, numbers and “$”), and not using the same passwords over and over again.
Have you reviewed your settings?
Many devices come with default settings, which — while presented as the “easy” option — might favor the manufacturer more than the customer. Know what information you’re sharing!
Some examples to think about include Location Services (you can control which apps, if any, can access your location data), Contacts (decide which apps you let access your info) and Analytics (prevent the sharing of data on your use of apps).
Do you have protection software installed?
You can install anti-virus software like McAfee or Trend Micro on your PC or Mac computers and laptops, and keep up with any updates. OR, if you are a “safe surfer,” you can trust the built-in Windows Defender that comes with Windows 10 AND 11.
Also, DON’T turn off the built-in firewalls that are already in your computer. They help!
Have you set up Find My iPhone or Find My iPad?
Let’s say you lose your phone, or worse, it’s been stolen. Setting up Find My iPhone will let you wipe the phone’s memory remotely so you don’t turn over sensitive personal data to crooks!
Anyway, there you have it.
Follow this simple checklist, and you needn’t invite the bad guys in!
Stephen Bach is the owner and chief of surgery at The Digital Docs in Marblehead.